“Got it,” Chloe said, adjusting her hat. “Are we ready?”
The girls nodded, looking beautiful in their flower hats and pearl necklaces. Behind them, a table was set up with mommy’s old plastic tea set and plates. A tray of bread steamed in the center of the table.
Morty beeped the horn of the Barbie convertible. “Ready to go!”
Sassy, Chloe, and Sweet Pea climbed in the car to meet the chickens on the borders. They were met by Rebecca and Penny, pulling mommy’s old red wagon, as the chickens appeared out of the trees pushing catapults and wagons filled with eggs. The chickens stopped, studying the prissed up parrots. “What’s this? Do you threaten us?”
“Threaten you?” Sweet Pea said. “Heavens, no! Not when you come bearing gifts of eggs. My, how we love eggs. They’d be great at our tea party!”
The chickens looked at one another, confused. Finally, one large, red hen stepped forward.
“My name is Henrietta. What’s a tea party?”
“You’ve never heard of a tea party?” Sassy asked.
“No. We were raised in stalls for slaughter,” Henrietta said.
“But you escaped,” Chloe said, “and the tale has inspired and encouraged all of us here in anipal land, where we value and cherish every animal life.”
“So naturally, we wanted to celebrate with a party in your honor,” Morty said. She nodded toward the wagon. “Come on, hop in! We’ll give you a ride!”
“To where?” Henrietta asked. “Is this a trap?”
The ladies gasped. “Why would we trap you?” Sweet Pea asked. “We want to celebrate you!”
“Come to the castle garden with us,” Chloe said. “It’s a safe place, and it’s fun.”
The chickens huddled together, clucking. Finally, Henrietta stepped forward.
“We will attend your party.”
“Great!” Morty said. “Bring the eggs, too. Chloe learned some fine recipes for preparing them from her mommy, and the rest of the hens are in the kitchen ready to scramble and prepare some fine omlets.”
“It’s the only thing she doesn’t ruin,” Chloe mumbled as the chickens loaded up in the wagon. Polly pulled the wagon while Rebecca roped together the egg carts and pulled them in. Andrea met the ladies as they approached the castle garden.
“Welcome!” Andrea said. “The table is set! Come and join us in a feast of celebration!” She nodded toward the back entrance to the castle. “The kitchen is set to prepare the eggs.”
“Wonderful!” Rebecca said.
“I know we said it’s a tea party, but birds can’t have caffine,” Conure Chick said. “I hope you don’t mind, but we substituted water and apple juice for tea. Is that alright?”
“We’ve never had this thing called apple juice,” Henrietta said, as the rest of the chickens climbed out of the wagon.
“It’s good,” Chloe said, “and our master bakers prepared this bread. We had to make several loaves, actually.” Her face flushed orange. “It was so good that we kept eating it.”
“Please, feast and enjoy yourselves!” Conure Chick said, plopping generous pinches of bread on each plate while Polly poured juice in the cups.
“You heard of our escape?” Henrietta asked.
Chloe bobbed her head. “We did, but not until recently. You must tell us how you did it. The reports are, well, unbelievable!”
“And why here?” Marianna asked.
“Yes, what brought you to our borders?” Sunny asked.
“Roosters,” Henrietta said.
Everybody stopped and stared at Henrietta.
“Roosters?” Sunny asked. “What do you mean?”
“We heard rumors that a farmer out here procured several roosters,” Henrietta said, “so we planned our escape. A disgruntled employee at the factory left several of our cages next to the truck cab open. When the time and location were right, we rushed the cabin of the truck, jack knived it, and turned our cohorts loose.”
“What about the truck driver?” Marianna asked.
“He’s ok,” Henrietta said. “We didn’t want him hurt, despite the fact that he was taking us to our doom. We don’t wish harm on anybody. That’s why we picked that location. It’s near hospitals. One for the head, and one for the body. So whichever was hurt, he could get help. But he was buckled in well, so he just had to climb out of the truck.”
“Did you find the roosters?” Chloe asked.
“We heard them, but we never found them. We were pursued by coyotes.” Henrietta finished her cup. “This apple juice is quite good.”
The other hens clucked approvingly as they stuffed their cheeks with steaming bread.
“Coyotes!” Morty said, refilling the tea cups. “Chloe’s uncle saw one.”
“There’s more than one,” Henrietta said. “There are many. That’s why we had the eggs. It’s the only way to defend ourselves. A well thrown egg can slow them down, or even knock them out.” Henrietta yawned. “We’re sorry about egging your castle, too. We thought you were working with the coyotes.”
“Oh no,” Sassy said. “In fact, we only recently learned of them too. They scare us.”
“What can we do?” Henrietta said. “The coyotes are vicious! They’ll eat us all! First, they’ll make Sunday dinner out of us, and then they’ll come after you!”
“If the hunters don’t find you first,” another chicken said. “Men with dogs and guns! We went from one doom to another!”
“One doom to another!” the other hens chimed in. Soon, they were in a frenzy of clucking and wandering about.
“Shh!” Andrea said. “Don’t make too much noise! You may wake them if they’re sleeping in the woods!”
“Why isn’t it working?” Morty whispered to Chloe.
Chloe held up a foot. “Wait for it.”
The chickens continued to clamor around.
“Doom! We’ll meet our doom!”
“It’s our lot in life!”
“We were hatched for the dinner table!”
“Goodness, they get no positive reinforcement or encouragement, do they?” Sassy said.
Chloe shrugged. “We’ll have to work on that.”
Soon, the chicken clamoring reached a peak frenzy. The chickens rushed about, clucking in a swirl of flying feathers. “What will we do?”
They silenced when they heard a howl in the distance.
“Oh no, they’re awake!” Henrietta shrieked. She saw Chloe standing by calmly and ran to her. “I know why you look familiar now! You’re Kung-fu Chloe! You can save us!”
“I can’t kung-fu a coyote,” Chloe said, “however, you went along with our plan perfectly.”
Henrietta looked confused. “What do you mean?”
“There’s more than one way to fight a coyote,” Chloe said, “and where force fails, there are other ways.”
“What other ways?” Henrietta asked. She stopped and yawned again. “Why do I feel sleepy?”
Soon, all of the chickens collapsed, snoring where they lay on the ground.
Chloe breathed a sigh of relief. “It took the E-Z-Snooz long enough on those big girls!”
Rebecca and Penny returned and gently lifted the chickens in the wagon. “We’ll wheel them in the guest sleeping quarters of the castle.”
“Thanks, ladies,” Chloe said, nodding to Morty, who pulled the walkie talkie out from under the table.
“Did you copy that?” Morty asked.
“Good job, ladies,” Jeff Musk said. “You did your part well.”
“Good luck back to you,” Marietta said. “Guys, you’re up!”